Hold on to your lederhosen Science fans, our favorite lo fi trash hero, Joshe Henry, is headed back east. In addition to the announcement of his return Joshe has also just announced the pre-production of his 45th (yes, this is true) album last week, the crassly titled “69 Ways to F**k a Redneck Girl” (I did that ** thing so as not to break my parent’s heart…more). Not that you would have known about it, unless you read his website, which you probably don’t, because it has only been back up for exactly one week yesterday.
The artist in his natural habitat
His last album, “The Double Eye Patch”, one of three 2008 releases, dropped to an absence of fanfare and a presence of relief from Henry himself. Despite this relief Henry visually bristles at the mention of the omission of his work by the creators of the iTunes “Outsider Music” play list. His eye twitches and he lets out a long sigh as he muses that ironically this act of disregard technically makes him even more “outsider” than the artists who’ve made the list. In Apple’s defense out of his 400 song strong (plus) catalog he only manages to have one song on iTunes, the unsteady “Elephant” warbled in Henry’s signature strained vocals. The song was chosen to be on Big Heavy World’s Pop Pie compilation on Burlington VT artists in 1999. It was the compilation, not Henry himself, which wandered onto the digital catalog. In this way Joshe Henry is in a situation he has found himself in quite frequently over his 32 years, he is somewhere purely by accident.
Being undiscovered after more than 18 years of recording otherwise doesn’t generally seem to bother Henry. In listening to his early work you might think he wants to largely remain unknown, the albums are confessional, silly even aggressive and might play out emotionally as if someone were reading aloud from an embarrassing 7th grade diary, reciting back old jokes only funny to a 12 year old boy.
Henry only has about 50 fans on myspace yet he has an unprecedented 10 pages of google search results. At his Austin, Texas home Joshe Henry sits in limbo, no critically acclaimed rock star to latch onto his vast body of work, like Beck to Gary Wilson or Kurt Cobain to Daniel Johnston, he wades in the kiddie pool of quirk dolefully alone.
Joshe began distributing his home-recorded albums much in the fashion of Johnston back in 1994. To those who don’t have the privilege of getting hand burned copies suffice to say they come so quickly one after another, like a quarterly magazine subscription. One has barely time to digest one before another one appears in the mailbox. He records most sitting cross-legged on his living room floor shouting into a 4 track recorder, playing every track on his album and mixing them on the same said 4 track – considering this it’s amazing half of his songs are even intelligible. And with each new year Henry’s albums turn more serious, darker and introspective. And along with the more serious subject matter the instrumentation and song writing also seems to have come thousands of miles since his 1991 self titled album.
Here is a truly self taught musician. Borrowing from Joe Meek ambient experimental and the trashiness of modern pop songwriting, here is a musician who learned not by studying his scales and arpeggios but through repeated experimentation and lots of failure…how does one learn to do what Joshe Henry does? This brutally sincere trash rock? He isn’t a goofy talentless hack, nor is he insincere, technicality aside he truly is a musician’s musician, he lives for his art. You don’t have to like what he creates, few do, but you have to admire his tenacity.
Brenda’s favorite? Check out a more recent track whose title will pull at the heartstrings of anyone who has been in the industry enough to have felt deep feelings of soul crushing rejection, “When I Get Drunk”. Pour out a PBR on the stoop, and keep those angels from crying…
Enjoy a sampletizer of tunes at his newly relaunched website.
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